To coin a phrase, I agree with Nick (Clegg) – two Ed’s are better than one.
Now Ed M has won the Labour leadership, it would clearly be to Labour’s advantage to make Ed Balls the Shadow Chancellor.
The absolutely central issue in Brutish politics at the moment is the Deficit – who created it and how to get rid of it.
The Tory-Lib Dem Coalition is busy trying to create a great myth – that the whole thing is Labour’s fault. Any sensible independent observer would say this is a ridiculous half-truth at best, if not a down-right Big Lie.
Public spending, as a proportion of national wealth, was not excessive under New Labour. It was running at about the forty year average in 2008. But they did allow a small ‘structural deficit’ to open up in their latter years, before the financial crisis hit. But this was only about 3% of GDP – after the crisis it leapt to 11%, so at the worst all that can be reasonably said is about a third of the problem is Labour’s gift to the nation. Nor was the cumulative debt – at about 40% of GDP – high. many bier OECD countries had higher levels.
What has caused the crisis in Britain to balloon so badly? The answer is simply the greatly skewed nature of the British economy – its obese financial sector, which is itself very international. as the international financial system headed for melt-down, the waves of disaster were funneled like a tidal bore into the British economy, with all the consequences we are now lumbered with.
The Coalition build on their myth that it’s all Labour’s fault, by asserting we need to ‘roll back the state’ by making bigger and deeper cuts than are really needed.
All of this points to Labour making Ed Balls the Shadow Chancellor – he is the only Labour leader with a clear view of the future of the economy and public finances, and the credibility of expertise to back it up. His recent Bloomberg speech, even if some details are questionable, was a tour de force – and importantly it was widely acknowledged as such.
There are two alternatives – David M or Yvette Cooper. The first would be a disaster for Labour, not because David M would make a bad shadow chancellor, but because it would immediately invite comparison with the Blair-Brown years, which Labour clearly needs to distance itself from. Yvette Cooper, is clearly competent but nowhere near as experienced or media friendly as her husband Ed Balls.
So – for Labour two Ed’s are almost certainly better than one. And whatever the bluster, my guess is George Osborne and Danny Alexander (Chancellor and Chief Secretary respectively) will not be comfortable at the prospect of facing Ed B over the despatch box.